Former England captain Joe Ruth has given his successor Ben Stokes a perfect start to his reign at Lord, leading England to victory with victory in a match to seal the first test against New Zealand.
Ruth stepped down as England captain in April after five years and a record 64 games, but remains the team’s most trusted performer with a bat. He made a decisive knockout of 115, not to create a win with five gates at home on cricket. In an icy partnership with Ben Fox, who made an unbeaten 32 with 120 results, Ruth led his side to a tough chase of 277 with his first-ever fourth inning ton.
Having done so, Ruth became only the second Englishman to reach 10,000 test runs – in the footsteps of his previous Sir Alastair Cook. The symmetry of their achievements does not end there: both men are exactly 31 years and 157 days old when they cross the threshold.
All in all, it was Ruth’s 26th test century, but he will be even more pleased with its importance to the team. No one has been closer to Ruth and has done more to support his leadership than Stokes, and he already seems dead set to return the favor.
England were marginal favorites when they recovered to 216 on five, with 61 runs still needed and five goalposts in hand, but the equation still looked difficult. With thick clouds overhead and spotlights glistening from the first ball, the conditions for the batting were far from ideal.
The fragile tail, which contains at least three natural numbers 11, also reinforced the responsibility for the nightly combination of Root and Foakes. One fuzzy dash or one inspired serve could change the mood, but the game, rolling back and forth with a series of twists, was put to bed surprisingly calmly.
Ruth was a key man, and he was reliably measured when he turned the invincible 77 into an understated form. However, Fox deserves immense respect for how he withstood the end of the deal. Successfully stopping Kiwi’s attack on the third night, scoring 48 goals in nine runs, the goalkeeper expanded his repertoire.
With facets in the prize, he helped himself to two in the space of three supplies from dangerous Kyle Jamison, hitting him with his fist from his hind leg to a third man before crunching on the disc. Later, when the target dropped below 30, he rolled on his heels and pulled Tim Savti between two field participants by four more.
Ruth went into the 90s by drilling Jamison into the ground, and then he got lucky when the under-edge dodged both his stumps and Tom Blandell on his way to the ropes. New Zealand had hoped to linger for a second new ball, but they failed to stop England’s score in time.
Ruth started from 77th, making 98 runs in innings and 9998 in her test career, and sent Southey to midwick to pair up with a proud double. He happily slammed into the air and pointed to the pavilion as the crowd showed their gratitude, and to the winning line is now just a few shots.
Ruth finished the job in brilliance of fame, taking Savti to three frontiers in the end when he finished everything with a hilarious midwicket swing to complete the perfect day for England.